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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Toward a Material Account of Babyloss Narratives: Authorship, Identifiability, and Embeddedness in Collective Storytelling
by Atlas, Janel Chaffin, Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2020, 226; 28087386
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation takes up the rhetorical and social interactions through which stories about pregnancy loss—babyloss—emerge. How are the stories people tell about their miscarriages and stillbirths invited in different situations and then shaped through the relationship with the interlocutors/listeners who are present? There are two main corpora that I take up to examine: print books about pregnancy loss and a public-facing website where women can share their babyloss experiences. I take up E. Ochs and L. Capps’ framework for narrative dimensions of identifiability and embeddedness to consider how co-telling and authorship are instantiated in babyloss storytelling that happens in different spaces, with particular attention to the difficulty babyloss narrators face in talking about a taboo subject. Describing babyloss can be challenging and complex, and people who try to talk about a baby who died before they were born face what anthropologist and feminist researcher L. Layne calls “the realness problem” of pregnancy loss (2003). When they tell a story about their babyloss, a bereaved narrator must, knowingly or unknowingly, position themself in opposition to a popular dominant cultural narrative that pregnancy loss is a minor and short term kind of grief. I argue that the act of telling about a babyloss constitutes a feminist rhetorical practice and that it is eminently social and made to matter through individual and collective portrayals of this kind of loss.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kerschbaum, Stephanie
Commitee: Ianetta, Melissa, Zdenek, Sean, Restaino, Jessica
School: University of Delaware
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Delaware
Source: DAI-A 82/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Linguistics, Sociology
Keywords: communication studies, grief, pregnancy loss, reproductive justice, rhetoric, writing
Publication Number: 28087386
ISBN: 9798684659676
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